Big Ten

With Bryce Drew on the sideline, Indiana native Bryant McIntosh has own NCAA tournament moment for Northwestern

With Bryce Drew on the sideline, Indiana native Bryant McIntosh has own NCAA tournament moment for Northwestern

SALT LAKE CITY — Bryant McIntosh looked over and saw Bryce Drew.

In 1998, Drew, now the Vanderbilt head coach, hit one of the most famous shots in NCAA tournament history, helping advance Valparaiso in an unbelievable March run.

Thursday, McIntosh, another one of Indiana's many basketball-playing sons, got his own NCAA tournament moment.

"I felt like my whole career I was destined to play in the NCAA tournament," McIntosh said after the game. "I felt like I had worked so hard that at some point the basketball gods were going to reward me."

McIntosh's moment will be less of a March highlight-reel staple for years to come, but he still got to walk off the court in Utah with the gigantic contingent of Northwestern faithful chanting "B-MAC! B-MAC!"

McIntosh scored a game-high 25 points and knocked down the game-winning free throw in Northwestern's 68-66 win over Vanderbilt, a win that advanced the Wildcats to the second round of their first-ever NCAA tournament.

He was exceptional throughout, and had it working on both ends of the floor. He turned in plenty of clutch plays, too, helping keep the Cats in front after the Commodores erased a 15-point second-half deficit. And once Vandy completely caught up and took a late lead, McIntosh hit one of the buckets that briefly put his team back ahead.

McIntosh also knocked down a pair of free throws after Vandy's Matthew Fisher-Davis inexplicably fouled him with 18 seconds left. The Commodores had the lead at the time, but McIntosh tied the game and then put Northwestern in front. For good.

"He was the best player on the floor," head coach Chris Collins said. "I thought he dominated the game. Whether he made a shot for himself, whether it was the way he ran our offense, the way he captained our defense. And that's what it takes this time of year. Your best players have to lead, and everybody else has to follow and do their part."

But even as Vandy had an opportunity for only a full-court heave with 1.4 seconds left, McIntosh wasn't done being nervous. After all, his fellow Hoosier was over there on the sideline.

"Being up one, up two, whatever it was with about a second to go," McIntosh said, "all I could think about was, 'Bryce Drew is on the sideline, and there's some basketball gods on the other end, too.'"

But the heave was well off the mark, and Northwestern captured its first NCAA tournament win ever. The Cats advanced to play Gonzaga in the second round on Saturday.

And you can bet McIntosh will be leading the way for Northwestern in that game, too. He's done it so often this season, stepping up his game in a big way when then-leading scorer Scottie Lindsey went down for four games with an illness. He was the Cats' leading scorer in eight of the team's final 10 regular-season games, and he's the team's leading scorer on the season now.

Oh, and he's doing his best to get into the act once "One Shining Moment" rolls around.

"He made some huge shots for us down the stretch, big free throws. He really carried us all game," Sanjay Lumpkin said. "For 40 minutes, he was the best player out there. That's what our point guard does. That's B-Mac. And he's had a lot of games like that.

"We're on a huge stage right now, and I’m just happy a lot of other people can see that."

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

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USA TODAY

Northwestern running back Jeremy Larkin diagnosed with cervical stenosis, will retire immediately

Tough news out of Evanston this morning: Northwestern announced that running back Jeremy Larkin will retire immediately after being diagnosed with cervical stenosis.

Cervical stenois is the narrowing of the spinal canal in one's neck, according to Mayo Clinic. Larkin's condition is thankfully not life-threatening, though it does prevent him from continuing to participate in the game of football. 

"Football has been a lifelong passion and it has been a process to reconcile the fact I won't be on that field again, given I've played this game since I was five years old," Larkin said.

"I'm extremely appreciative of the Northwestern sports medicine and athletic training staffs for uncovering this condition, and for my coaches and the medical staff for always putting my health first.

"I came to this University to engage at the absolute highest level on the field and in the classroom, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to continue one of those while supporting my teammates from the sideline." 

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald called the news "heartbreaking."

"This is heartbreaking because I see every day how much Jeremy loves the game, loves his teammates, and loves to compete," Fitzgerald said in a statement. "But this is the absolute best possible outcome for him.

"The discovery of this condition allowed Jeremy and his family to make an informed decision for his long-term health and well-being. For those of us who have known Jeremy Larkin since his high school days, his future is exceptionally bright. I can't wait to see the impact he makes in our world."

Larkin is a sophomore from Cincinnati. He finishes his Northwestern career with 156 carries for 849 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns.

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

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USA TODAY

Former Illini champion Kevin Anderson upsets Roger Federer in Wimbledon quarterfinal

Former University of Illinois tennis star Kevin Anderson completed a marathon upset against an all-time great on the highest stage of professional tennis.

Anderson came back from two sets down to beat Roger Federer in Wimbledon’s quarterfinals 2-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 13-11 on Wednesday morning. He will play in the semifinals of the tournament for the first time in his career.

As a native of South Africa, Anderson played three seasons with the Fighting Illini and won the NCAA doubles championship during the 2005-06 season as a sophomore. The 32-year-old was a three-time All-American in singles at Illinois.

Now, as the eighth ranked singles player on the ATP World Tour, Anderson is a force to be reckoned with at the professional level. He made it all the way to the US Open final in 2017.

The former Illini star will look to keep his recent success going when he represents Illinois in the semifinals of Wimbledon this Friday.